#5 – Derek Arch

An artist's impression of my would-be attacker

“Insane in the membrane (insane in the brain)” – Cypress Hill

When I was 13 I nearly got run over by a milk float. This story isn’t entirely surprising if you realise that I have a habit of getting hit by cars, but in this instance it was the milk float driver just being a bastard, deciding a stumpy little boy dressed in purple and grey (my school pre-empted punishment to us by making us wear that as a uniform) would make a great test of his brakes at 7 in the morning for shits and giggles, while aiming a pint of milk squarely at my head.

I’ll never forget his face, if not for his menacing look and a buzzcut, but for the fact he looked like a rhino had trampled all over it, gored him and then made love to his ear. I never saw him again, presumably he got arrested or very painfully gave birth to a fully grown rhino (we can only hope for the latter).

Surely milkmen were a nicer sort in the old days. Apparently my Grandad had been one at one point but given I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast (either a jam tart or an orange, I think…), this isn’t exactly helpful, and regardless of his nice demeanour and crazy Doc Brown hair, I was left with an overriding image of milkmen just being young chavvy bastards who hated the colour purple.

Colour hadn't been invented back in the old days

That was until I read about this guy. Derek Arch took over his Dad’s round when he was 14 mid-WWII in rubble-strewn Coventry and for 67 years, he has arisen at 2.30am and walked 8 miles every single day to make sure the people of Coventry get their milk. At the same time, he puts many car-owners to shame having maintained and used the same milk float since 1959.

That is quite a commitment just so those lazy 6am risers can half something to splash onto their generic cereal flakes. And, of course, milkmen aren’t world renowned for their huge paychecks and lavish lifestyles. This man chose to put in a ridiculous amount of work at a cost to a normal lifestyle just to earn is daily bread. Not only is he a hero, but he’s my favourite sort of hero; the insane type.

He has restored my faith in the milk profession, and even though the milkman species is likely to go the way of the dodo and my grandmother’s scrambled memory, he will be my lasting image of milkmen world over; the good guy, the one who doesn’t want to slice your face up with liquid calcium. Well, unless Milky McBuzzcut gets out of jail and wants his revenge, in which case I would totally bet on Archy to beat him to Rhino-impregnated town.

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